Violence is a concept as old as life itself. Everyday we are directly or indirectly connected to some form of violence. This leads us to a question regarding the origins of violent behavior in humans: Does it arise from environmental consequence or from the individual person? Various related studies have been conducted but, ultimately, they’ve not offered up any definitive answers on the subject. One activity that’s (unfairly?) socially and politically connected to violence is playing videogames. It allegedly causes violent behavior in those who play them. Again, some experts believe this statement to be true, while others hold a contrary standpoint – and in both cases neither of them have conclusive evidence. This article is not a scientific study on the matter but merely a series of ideas that the reader should consider and then form a personal conclusion from.
Videogames are not the first suspects when dealing with the incitement of violent behavior. Books, movies, music, and even the news have been put under the violence microscope. Historically, any of these entertainment mediums have been accused of inspiring violent events. There are two famous, and relatively recent, examples that spring to mind: the infamous Manson family killings and Mark Chapman’s murder of John Lennon. The mass murderer, Charles Manson, said that his murderous inspirations arose from the songs of The Beatles. He claimed that secret codes were conveyed directly to him through the musical and lyrical content of the songs. This insane admission led to some people actually believing that The Beatles’ music was satanic and spawned violent behavior. However, other, more psychologically stable, individuals thought Manson’s statement was little more than an effort to deflect responsibility for his heinous crimes. Again, compelling arguments both, but neither of them could call forth absolute proof for their statements. The other violent event – strangely also connected to The Beatles – was not induced by music; at least according to the killer of John Lennon. Mark Chapman’s explication or reasoning was that the book Catcher in the Rye gave him the idea for ending Lennon’s life. The difference here, from that of the mass murders of Charles Manson, is that Manson blamed the music directly: “The songs made me do it!” As opposed to reading a novel and directly garnering depraved intent from it, in Chapman’s case he did not attribute the whole terrifying idea to the book’s content. He made personally motivated conclusions of what to do, based upon what he read. Why is this different? Because it draws a line as to where the responsibility of the person ends. One cited example completely blames an outside influence for his actions, whereas the other admits his own involvement in the subsequent deadly event. In both, the end result is violent behavior.
Videogames like books, movies, or music have an effect on the mind of whoever is participating in the activity. Can a game consciously or subconsciously prompt us to be violent? This article hopefully plants the seed of an idea that nothing and no one can force you to be violent, or to commit an act of violence. This leads to yet another statement: violence comes from within a person or living creature. Though environment can be a trigger for violent behavior, eventually the human or animal has the